Razer shows portable gaming system with LCD keys

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Amid the bevy of tablets and other such mobile devices at this year's CES is an intriguing portable gaming system developed by Razer. Called the Switchblade, the 7-inch clamshell aims to bring full-fledged PC gaming to a super mobile form factor. That's obviously easier said than done, because true PC gaming requires a reasonably powerful processor and graphics chip, neither of which mingles well with the space restrictions of an ultra-mobile machine.

According to Engadget, that's precisely what's kept the Switchblade behind closed doors. Razer told the site that it's been developing the Switchblade for years, but Intel's Atom platform simply hasn't been quick or efficient enough. Although Atom still isn't synonymous with extreme computing, apparently Razer thinks Oak Trail has some promise. Razer hasn't specifically said Oak Trail is inside, but the company does say it's Atom powered in this promo video.

Little else is known about the Switchblade's internals, but that's not really the focus of today's unveiling anyway. What's most interesting about the device is its approach to scaling the PC gaming experience down to a nearly pocket-sized machine. That's largely accomplished by an LCD keyboard that changes depending on what you're doing. To be clear, it's not an LCD panel with a software keyboard, but a fully functional hardware keyboard with an LCD below.


Engadget says it feels like your typical chiclet keyboard and it has enough keys to make the standard English layout. However, when you launch a game, a separate profile is loaded and the keys transform to represent game-specific options. For instance, if you open World of Warcraft, the keys morph to movement arrows, spells, chat symbols and so on. It's unclear if users will have full control over each key's image or if they'll just have to rely on profiles.

It's worth noting that the Switchblade won't just act as a gaming device. Since it runs Windows 7, it could easily fill the void between your smartphone and desktop when it comes to mobile content creation and entertainment. Unfortunately, Razer hasn't publicly committed to a launch timeframe, let alone a price. In fact, they're still calling the device a "design concept," so don't expect to get your hands on one until sometime next year at the earliest.

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